Off-leash dogs have been an ongoing problem in the GGNRA for many years. They can negatively impact people, our pets, wildlife, and park resources. Imperiled wildlife like the western snowy plover are frequently harassed by off-leash dogs; guide dog users are regularly interfered with—and occasionally attacked—by off-leash dogs; and perhaps most alarmingly, hundreds of off-leash dogs have been lost, injured, or killed when they fall off cliffs, run into traffic, or otherwise lose their owners.
It doesn’t have to be this way: the new proposed dog management rule provides important safeguards for people, our pets, wildlife, and the entire park system by providing for specific areas where dogs may roam off-leash, including Fort Funston, Ocean Beach, and Crissy Field; the proposed rule provides for hundreds of additional miles of trails where dogs will be welcome on-leash; and provides for a process to ensure that these areas are clearly demarcated—ideally with physical boundaries—so that park visitors can choose their own experienced at the GGNRA, and not have the experience thrust upon them unwillingly.
The policies within this plan have been supported Animal welfare groups like the ASPCA, PETA, American Humane Association, Action for Animals, and Dogs Deserve Better, who have called for leash law enforcement at the GGNRA.
In 2001 the California Department of Parks and Recreation conducted a study on safe off-leash dog play areas and concluded that this means enclosing the area with a physical boundary, so that dogs can’t run away from their owners and get into trouble, and so people can choose to enter these areas on their own terms.
This is a reasonable solution that is widely supported by Bay Area residents. According to a phone survey by Northern Arizona University conducted in 2001, 71% of Bay Area residents support enforcing the leash law at the GGNRA.
Encourage your local public officials to support the proposed rule for dog management in the GGNRA to create a more equitable experience for all park visitors!